In 1933, Alexis Moussali, a pharmacist, and a Parisian doctor, Alfred Curie, launched a French line of radioactive beauty products, first from the Rue des Capucines and then from 146 Avenue Victor Hugo. Alexis Moussali was probably the brains behind the commercial operation, with Dr. Alfred Curie – if he actually existed – brought along because of his surname – Marie and Pierre Curie had no relation of that name.
The product line, which included a cleansing milk, skin cream, powder, rouge, lipstick and toothpaste, was called Tho-Radia as it contained thorium chloride and radium bromide, both of which are radioactive. The products were relatively expensive for the time, possibly due, in part, to the cost of the radioactive materials. One hopes that the expense of the ‘active ingredients’ may have resulted in reduced amounts of thorium and radium being incorporated into the cosmetics.
Despite the relatively high price, it sold throughout France from 1933 through to the early 1960s. When tested in the 1960s, the products were still found to be radioactive (Mould, n.d. p. 3).
Like other products of the time, Tho-Radia was advertised as being a scientific method of beauty (Méthod Scientific de Beauté). The medical ‘benefits’ of radium had been highly publicised in the French press and were well known by the French populace in the 1930s. Product advertising shows a face lit from below which makes it look like it is ‘glowing’. What could be healthier than a glowing complexion?
An associated booklet produced by the company makes the following claims:
"Stimulates cellular vitality, activates circulation, firms skin, eliminates fats, stops enlarged pores forming, stops and cures boils, pimples, redness, pigmentation, protects from the elements, stops ageing and gets rid of wrinkles, conserves the freshness and brightness of the complexion."
Sealed Powder Box
Size: 7 cm
Ref. V 123